Since the first Tokyo Michelin guide was published in autumn of 2007, the unveiling of each new edition has become one of the major events of the gastronomic calendar. Despite the initial indignation that a foreign tire company could dare to judge Japanese restaurants, the local media have embraced the Red Guide with ever-increasing fervor.

In part this reflects Japan's age-old love of lists and rankings. At the same time, the enthusiasm has continued to rise, along with the number of restaurants included in the various guides. Tokyo famously now has more three-starred restaurants than Paris, and Japan is set to overtake France in terms total number of stars awarded too.

Clearly, this is a matter of substantial national pride. But nothing to compare with the imminent announcement (expected early in December) that UNESCO is formally recognizing Japanese cuisine, washoku, as part of the world's Intangible Cultural Heritage.